Should the church be regulated by government?
• ‘Church Can Regulate Its Affairs Without Govt’s Interference’
• ‘CAN Oversees What Goes On In The Church, While PFN Is Also
There To Attend To Anything Concerning Its Body’
Since the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adeboye, named a national overseer for the church, immense ripples have been generated. The change of guards at the national level, was done in compliance “with the new legal requirements set up by the Financial Regulations Council (FRC) for all registered churches, mosques, and civil society organisations. Among other things, the FRC code stipulates that heads of non-profit organisations like churches now have a maximum period of 20 years to lead their organisations while in retirement.” Since the change in the national hierarchy of the RCCG, even though government has indicated a repeal or amendment of the controversial code, many are still wondering aloud whether the church should be regulated by the State in whatever form? CHRIS IREKAMBA and ISAAC TAIWO report.
‘Leave Regulation Of Church In The Hands Of Those Called To Manage Spiritual Assignment’
(His Grace, Most Rev. Emmanuel Josiah Udofia, Primate, The African Church/President, Christian Council of Nigeria)
THE church and the state are two different organs; one is “theocracy” while the other is “democracy.” The church is spiritual, while the state is secular. Nevertheless, the church as a spiritual organism has a vital role to play in the state. Religion is essential to a vibrant and democratic society. Its instruction and beliefs remain today, the livelihood of society’s moral ethos. Not only does religion teach virtue, it catalyses moral action, and that is why religion is inculcated into a child (who is part of a society and state) from his/her youngest years. They are also taught to voluntarily obey the law, respect other people’s property, and not steal them. Children are also taught never to lie, and to respect the life and freedom of others, the same as their own.
Religious liberty boosts society’s socio-economic progress and reduces violent conflicts. Both religion and religious freedom contribute to a more peaceful, stable and charitable society. As a result, societies are more likely to flourish when citizens have the freedom to voice their deepest beliefs.
The crux of the matter is, who are those controlling the state? Do they have the right spiritual enlightenment to control the church? How far have they gone in delivering the dividends of good governance to the citizens? Can error correct error? This is where I want to urge the church not to bastardise their noble God-given role. Spiritual assignment should be left for those who are truly called, while the adulteration that crept into the church, which brought about this controversy to the kingdom should be exterminated.
‘Church Is Spiritual And Its Head Is God’
(Baba Aladura, Elder Israel Akinadewo, Prelate/Supreme Head, Motailatu Church, Cherubim and Seraphim Worldwide (MCCSW)
MY submission is that the church is spiritual with God Almighty as its head. So, government wanting to regulate the affairs of the church can only be interpreted to mean that government wants to take the position of the head of the church, and then dictate to God, which is impossible.
The church can only be rightly regulated by God, who instituted it. Whenever anything goes wrong in the church, it is also God who corrects it with His infinite wisdom.
The government cannot understand the things of God because matters concerning the church are spiritual, and can only be understood and addressed by God, who established His church.
Again, the church has its umbrella bodies that can rightly look into the affairs and address any problem within. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) oversees what goes on in the church, while the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) is also there to attend to anything concerning its body.
‘Church Is Not A Financial Institution That Should Be Controlled By Govt’
(Cardinal Anthony Olubunmi Okogie Archbishop Emeritus of Lagos Archdiocese)
ON whether the church should be regulated by the state, it should be noted that the church is the house of the people of God. The church is not a financial institution that is controlled by the government.
It is true that some churches go beyond what is supposed to be the limit, or the boundary of the church, and that is why they have problems. Yet, this does not call for government taking over the affairs of the church, or usurping God’s position.
The church is not set up for money-making, but is meant for spiritual matters. Every church also has a leader that presides over its affairs and that should suffice.
The divine aspect is greater than the issue of money.
‘Church Is A Different Entity From The State’
(His Eminence, Dr. Samuel ‘Emeka Uche, Prelate, Methodist Church Nigeria)
AS to whether the church should be regulated by the state, it is not expected of the government to meddle into the affairs of the church because the church is a different entity.
The church is a non-profit organisation. When it even comes to the issue of taxation, it is not expected of the government to start thinking of taxing the church because doing that would tantamount to double taxation. Members of the church pay tax before giving to God what is due to Him.
Problems of the church are internal problems and the government has no business thinking it has the responsibility of correcting what is going on in the church.
The church also has a constitution, which guides it and this rests the case on whether the state should regulate the church. Even if it is discovered that, the church is doing something wrong.
‘Govt Has No Business Regulating Affairs Of The Church’
(His Grace, Most Rev. Dr. Alfred Adewale Martins, Catholic Archbishop of Lagos)
IT must be admitted that the church has its own structure and how it must be run. There is distinction between the government and the church as far as the issue of control is concerned.
The government, therefore, has no business in regulating the affairs of the church. It is understandable if there is any issue and the church decides to go to the government or to the court for adjudication.
It is, however, not the business of the government to take over the responsibility of deliberating or commenting on any issue concerning the church.
There is freedom of worship and this must be respected by the government. We know that the church operates within the system of the government, and the fact that the church is not expected to operate against the constitution (of the government), yet it is not the government’s responsibility to interfere in the affairs of the church.
The church can regulate its affairs and put right anything that is wrong within the body.
‘Church Leadership Is Capable Of Handling Its Affairs’
(Archbishop Jacob Akpiri JP, Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN/General Overseer of Christian Holy Ghost Bible Church, Ovom, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State)
LET me tell you why government or any other person cannot regulate the church. You can’t regulate God and succeed. One, the church has its leadership, for instance, I am the chairman of CAN in Bayelsa State, and if any church is erring it is our duty to caution such erring ones among us and to instruct them on what to do to make amends.
It is the church that can regulate how long a leader should stay in office and not the government. It is the church that should correct its members if that is the basis for government to regulate the church. The church leadership is there to handle the affairs of the church.
For instance, when there was a case between some bishops, what we did was to invite them, look at the case dispassionately, and rebuked those that needed to be rebuked. This is the right thing to do as churches like the Catholic Church, Anglican Communion, and Methodist Church have good leadership structures.
Apart from that, we also have the Christian Council of Nigeria (CCN), which oversees the Baptist, Anglican and Methodist. We have the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, CSN, which oversees Catholic churches; we have Christian Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (CPFN) and Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), which comprises all Christ Apostolic Churches, the Pentecostal churches… We have also the Organisation of African Instituted Churches, (OAIC), which is made up of all the white garments churches. We also have TEKAN and ECWA fellowships. These bodies have heads and so we are well-organised. It is not government that should regulate us.